Possibility of providing free contraception in Ireland to be examined by new group

Minster for Health Simon Harris has announced that a working group will be established to examine if current cost barriers surrounding contraception can be removed.

The group will specifically investigate a number of issues surrounding the costs of the contraceptive pill and the current requirement of a doctor's prescription for it.

It will also look at other factors, including legislative and financial barriers, and will make recommendations to the minister.

Why now?

The recommendation of free access to contraception was made by the Oireachtas Committee on the eighth amendment, whose previous recommendations led to the referendum which removed the constitutional ban on abortion last year.

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In a statement, Minister Harris said: "One of the key recommendations of the Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment was to improve access to contraception. We have taken a number of steps in increasing access to condoms this year.

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"Now, I want to ensure that we complete the next big body of work in this area. This work will take a number of months to complete, but it will deliver a clear pathway forward."

The benefits

Simon Harris added: "Cost should not be a barrier to accessing contraception and I am determined to address this. The benefits are clear.

"This will help reduce the number of crisis pregnancies and promote good sexual health. I look forward to receiving the outcome of this work later this year."

At this moment in time, women with a medical card can access contraception for free. Without a medical card, women must first pay for a doctor's appointment for a consultation and then a repeat appointment every six months, along with a monthly payment for the pill prescription.

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